Smitty’s Mt. Rushmore: ‘Coaches’

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’ve spent years comparing eras and players, debating who ranks as the best of the very best, with a consensus always seeming to escape us in the end.

But what about the coaches? Who would make your list as the best of the best, the Mt. Rushmore of coaches of the NBA?

NBA TV’s Steve Smith, who stirred the player debate last season, is back at it again. And this time he’s shining a light on the coaches. Check out who made the cut on Smitty’s Mt. Rushmore for coaches 

VIDEO: Steve Smith picks his Mt. Rushmore of the “Greatest Coaches” in NBA history

Smitty’s list is solid and his reasons for putting Chuck Daly, Lenny Wilkens, Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson on the big rock make sense. But how do you compile any list of the top NBA coaches and not include Red Auerbach and Pat Riley?

My basketball sensibilities simply won’t allow it.

Go to to submit your own list of the legendary shot callers you think belong on Mt. Rushmore “Greatest Coaches.”



  1. Charliecheese says:

    Jerry Sloan needs to be on the list.

  2. dlorea says:

    To those arguing that Phil has Jordan Pippen, Shaq and Kobe, these players struggle in the playoffs before Phil Jackson coaches them. Phil help them to win championships. Winning championship does not solely rely on great players or great coaching. Its a combination of both. So credits should go to all of them.

  3. ChiefJustice says:

    Phi Jackson was not a great coach. He was not even a good coach.

    The years 1994 and 1995 attest to that. Those were the years Michael Jordan retired. Simply put, if he really was a good coach he could have won even without Michael Jordan. But he did not. And bad for him Michael Jordan came back from retirement and won another three straight championships That means it was Michael Jordan who was winning and giving Phil Jackson the championships. Phil Jackson cannot win without Michael Jordan.

    And the events in Chicago were replicated in Los Angeles. With the departure of Shaquille O’Neal it was a free fall for Phil Jackson for many years. Until Pau Gasol came on board. Simply put, he cannot win a championship without a dominating (Shaquille O’neal) player. And Pau Gasol proved that: It was proven that Phil Jackson (and Kobe for that matter) cannot win a championship without Shaquille.

    Again, if he truly was a good coach he could have continue winning without Michael Jordan in Chicago, and without Shaquille O;Neal in Los Angeles. But he did not. On the contrary, it was Micheal Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal (Pau Gasol) – incidentally – who proved that Phil Jackson cannot win a championship without them.

    It was Michael Jordan, Shaquille O;Neal and Pau Gasol who won those championships and not Phil Jackson. (Are you listening Kobe?)

  4. Cally says:

    Jerry Sloan, coaching was very similar to Gregg Popovich, he was able to maximize production from players with not so much talent.

    I miss the days of Jerry Sloan coaching the Jazz…

  5. bodjee says:

    Rick Carlisle.

  6. Kit says:

    Where is Jerry Sloan??? 3rd most wins all-time, 15 consecutive seasons w/ winning records and playoff appearances, multiple division and conference championships, along w/ 2 trips to the NBA finals.

  7. bsj968 says:

    All the coaches Smitty listed had great players with multiple all-stars / superstars. I could have coached the Bulls with Jordan and won championships. I think people give Jackson too much credit.

  8. Rebound Big T says:

    Rivers is not on there because of the Clipper’s downfall vs Houston last year.
    Steve Smith was an all star with Atlanta (coach Wilkins) and champion with Spurs. Chuck Daly was not that good. He won with Detroit but did nothing to develop players there or anywhere else. Top 4 Jackson, Popovich, Auerbach and Riley

  9. MarcT says:

    Don Nelson and Sloan

  10. Gabriel says:

    Larry Brown is the best Coach ever!

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  12. kevin says:

    phil had good teams most of the time except the lakers without kobe… riley up there before all of em the godfather.. and pop turned off the a/c in game 1.. i dont think thats coaching. more like cheating

    • apexofkryptos says:

      If you believe that tripe that Pop turned off the air conditioning, well you are either too stupid, too biased, or both to be posting here.

  13. Vladimir Kedrov says:

    V’s Top 5 In historical sequence: Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich.
    Honorable mentions: Chuck Daly, Rudy Tomjanovich.

  14. 7Chrome says:

    It’s odd, the question isn’t who won the most championships, it’s who is the best coach(Teacher).. Players have more to do with winning championships than what the coach does in all walks of life..

  15. Chevy says:

    Where’s doc rivers ..

  16. s says:

    red tell me…who’s steve smith?

    • Carlos Carranza says:

      A no known player making his own list, leaving out Riley the best coach inside and outside the court.

  17. prahumac says:

    it should be pop i guesss the most winningest among the trios!!!!!!

  18. Matt Damon says:

    Luke Walton, Luke Walton, Luke Walton, and Luke Walton

    • Alexander Maunu says:

      Luke Walton is using someone else’s game plan, someone else’s rotations and someone else’s playbook. He’s doing a great job, but he’s hardly a head coach.

  19. Celtics! says:

    How do you leave out Red?

  20. LePiv says:

    It’s actually easy to understand his choices: He’s gotta give some love to his own coaches, then to his hometown team’s coach, and then to the winningest coach. That’s why it’s called Smitty’s Mt. Rushmore.
    In my opinion (you don’t have to agree), a guy that deserves honorable mention for being the innovator of the Small Ball style is Mike D’Antoni, but unfortunately for him his teams lacked players that committed to defense as well as ofense, so he planned to his players’ strenghts.
    That being said, he has no business in anyone’s Mt. Rushmore, except for Steve Nash’s, since thanks to that style of play he ended up winning 2 MVP awards.
    By the way, my Mt. Rushmore would be Jackson, Pop, Auerbach, and Riley.

  21. silver says:

    funniest list ever…

  22. rdeano7 says:

    Leaving Red Auerbach out is just ridiculous! Respect to Daly and Wilkens but Red gets in ahead of both for sure!

  23. Jackson, Popovich, Riley, Auerbach. Shouldn’t even be a question

  24. John says:

    How the hell do u leave our Red Auerbach…..